~: Kurt :~
The tall, pale boy seemed to be walking against the flow of his fellow classmates, clearly ignoring the near-constant buzz of students shuffling through the hallways anxiously chattering amongst each other. His usual near-perfect posture slightly slouched today as he smoothly sashayed through the mass of students. It was not uncommon to see him walking alone with his head down, looking at the floor, desperately clutching his shoulder satchel. He'd come to the conclusion months ago that it wasn't worth the effort to look upwards. What could he possibly have to look forward to? Awkward looks from his classmates? Getting forcefully bumped into another set of lockers? Yet another slushy facial? No, it wasn't worth it. He'd learned that it was better to keep a low profile, try to "blend" in to the crowd. Though, try as he may, he usually ended up getting tossed into a dumpster or hip-checked into the drinking fountain on a daily basis anyway. It was sadly, just the way of the world these days. That's what he got for being different.
Kurt Hummel hadn't always been a quiet kid. Up until a few months ago he'd had a group of several close friends and was actually quite outgoing. He'd enjoyed life, spending the time between classes chatting about the latest fashion trends or the recent celebrity gossip. He'd even laughed. That thought ironically brought a tiny sadistic smile to his thin, porcelain face when he realized that he couldn't remember the last time someone had made him laugh.
He could hear the whispers and the snickers as he walked along the William McKinley High School hallway, headed towards his French class. He'd learned to ignore them, or so he'd thought. But he could still hear the muttered profanities and derogatory choruses spilled his direction. His face reddened, whether with anger or embarrassment he couldn't be sure, as he turned the corner down a seemingly less-travelled hallway, only to march directly into a giant brick wall. Kurt's breath caught as he looked up ready to apologize when instantly every speck of color drained from his face.
"What the fuck are you doing homo?" It was David Karofsky, the right guard of the High School football team and Kurt's personal Satan. "Watch where you're going faggot!"
Kurt didn't even bother with his apology. He knew it would fall on deaf ears. He attempted to step out of the way only to be blocked by Azimio Adams, also a football jock and Karofsky's right-hand man. Kurt turned to look for an alternate route, but several other mammoth-sized boys wearing the stereotypical red and white letterman's football jacket obstructed his path. He felt himself being grabbed by his arms and unceremoniously tossed into the row of lockers to his left. Pain exploded behind his eyes as his head slammed into the hinge between two of the metal doors. He closed his eyes, literally seeing fuzzy dancing stars and hoped that if he stayed lying on the floor long enough that the group of jocks would lose interest and leave him alone.
Once again, fate had other ideas.
He winced as he was lifted back to his feet and tried to pull away as Karofsky pretended to dust him off. "Wow Hummel, you should really watch where you're going, you took as nasty spill there."
Kurt sighed, closed his eyes and kept his mouth shut. His head felt like it was going to explode and he couldn't promise that if he opened his mouth to speak that he wouldn't vomit all over the Jock. That really wouldn't end well.
"What's wrong Hummel?" Karofsky sneered. "Did you get your fancy new clothes dirty?"
Kurt couldn't contain the tiny whimper that escaped his lips as the hands around his arms tightened; a punishment for refusing to give in to the large boy's taunts. He heard a ripping noise and realized that one of the other boys had torn the sleeve of his new Marc Jacobs sweater. He gritted his teeth but didn't dare utter a word of complaint. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime of glares from the gargantuan teenager, he was dumped to the floor and shoved and kicked by each of the passing boys as the group continued along the hallway.
It was like this every day. Surely he should be used to it by now. Still, as he picked himself up off the floor, a single tear found its way down his slender, colorless cheek.
Kurt didn't bother going to his French class. After he'd spent twenty-five minutes in the bathroom emptying the contents of his stomach and trying to re-gain his composure, there was really no point. There was no way that he was going to his last class of the day - gym class, so he snuck through the hallways and out to his shiny black Lincoln Navigator which was parked on the far end of the campus parking lot. He'd learned not to park his prized possession anywhere near the entrance of the school. Many times he'd come out of the building to find his car scratched, windows soaped, or tires slashed. He sadly recalled a couple of months ago when he'd discovered that someone had spray-painted the word "fag" onto the back bumper. He was fortunate that his father Burt owned a tire shop. Kurt had been able to sneak his car in and use some of his father's industrial strength cleaner to remove the majority of the condescending message. Kurt couldn't bare the thought of his father finding out about the abuse he took while at school. He was a single father, after Kurt's mother Elizabeth had passed away some years ago; he was forced to raise Kurt alone on an entrepreneur's salary. He'd done well, Kurt admitted. He loved his father more than anything else on this earth, but Burt had enough on his plate trying to keep the tire shop afloat and maintain the finances. Kurt knew that his father would be devastated to learn of his treatment.
Burt had been accepting, even grateful for hearing the truth when Kurt had finally admitted to him that he was gay. Burt claimed to have known all along, as only a true loving father would. But Kurt knew that his father had a hard time talking about his son's sexuality. It wasn't that he didn't accept it, but more because he couldn't understand it, at no fault of his own. Burt had done more than his fair share of educating himself to the more "intimate" knowledge regarding gay lifestyles and had been very adamant to Kurt that he was always available to talk to and ask questions. The awkward conversation hadn't last long, as both men nodded and agreed that most of it was better left unsaid.
Kurt was relieved to find that his car had remained untouched and slowly climbed into the driver's seat, wincing as his sore muscles informed him that he could expect some new bruises tomorrow. So far he'd been lucky – the majority of the cuts and bruises he'd obtained were in places that were easily covered by wearing many layers of clothing – one thing that Kurt was well known for.
He wasn't sure how he was going to hide the giant goose egg on the back of his skull tonight. His head throbbed like a dull reminder of the day's events as he started the engine and began his journey home.
"Kurt buddy? You home?"
It was later that evening and Burt Hummel had just walked through the door after work, greeted by silence. His clothes smelled of tire rubber and grease and were stained with oil and who knows what else. He looked around and was slightly surprised at how quiet their quaint 3-bedroom home appeared this evening. Usually when he came home from work he was greeted by a delicious aroma from the kitchen and the sounds of his son singing softly to himself as he prepared the meal.
Burt was truly thankful that his son had inherited his late mother's ability to cook. Kurt seemed to enjoy the opportunity to have a home cooked meal ready for his dad when he returned home from a long day's work. Burt admired the hell outta his son. He knew it must be tough at school and being afraid to show his true colors. He hadn't failed to realize that Kurt had not been acting like himself for the past few months. He figured the kids at school were still giving him a hard time. Kurt had been dealing with bullies his whole life. He was a good kid, but damn it, he'd always been a little bit different. Burt chuckled to himself as he could picture Kurt dressing up in his mom's fancy clothes, which were much to big for him at only seven years old. He fondly remembered giving his son bizarre looks when Kurt insisted on stumbling around the house in his mother's high heels. Elizabeth would only smile and say, "Leave him be Burt, he's just having fun." Burt smiled at the memory of his late wife. It wouldn't surprise him one bit if he found out that Elizabeth had known about Kurt all along. She was such a loving and devoted mother, she likely knew before Kurt himself had figured things out. His son was nearly the spitting image of his late wife, having inherited her large glasz eyes, which ironically, were both a sad reminder and a daily dose of sunshine for him.
"Kurt?" He questioned again.
Burt made his way into the kitchen, taking off his grimy ball cap and hanging it over the hook on the wall beside the hallway mirror.
He found a note on the table,
I made you a sandwich and salad. It's on the plate in the fridge. Hope you had a good day. I am not feeling very good so I headed to bed early to try and nip it in the bud.
Burt grinned at the smiley face his son had scrawled at the bottom of the note. His son's neat cursive had always been reminiscent of his mother's. He took the plate of food out of the refrigerator along with a cold beer and sat down on at the table and enjoyed the silence.
Kurt wasn't asleep, but he hadn't realized his father had come home until he heard the gentle knock on his bedroom door. He flinched only slightly as the door opened a crack and the light from the hallway scorched his still-closed eyes. The dull hammering in his brain escaladed into a heavy pounding and he suddenly felt nauseous again. When he managed to curb the nausea, he saw that his dad had snuck his balding head through the crack.
"pssst, you still awake?"
"Dad, who says pssst?"
Burt Hummel laughed to himself and quietly walked into his son's pristine room. He had to hand it to Kurt – he'd never once had to tell him to clean his room.
"How you feeling buddy?" he said softly, as he gently sat of the edge of his son's bed.
"I'm ok," Kurt lied. "Just a bit of a headache."
"Do you want some Aspirin?"
"Already took some." Kurt groaned louder than he'd meant to as he rolled over in the bed, strategically turning the lump on the back of his head away from his father.
"Are you sure you're ok? Do you need some water or anything?" Burt sounded genuinely concerned.
"Nah, I'm good. Just need to sleep it off."
"Ok, well, call me if you need anything." Burt replied, "I'm just going to be downstairs watching the game, okay?"
"Uh huh," was all Kurt could come up with. "G' night dad."
Kurt awoke the next morning with the migraine of all migraines. There was no way he was going to school when he couldn't even open his eyes enough to avoid bumping into the bookshelf on his way to the bathroom.
No sooner was Kurt nestled back into bed and underneath the covers, then his father entered the room carrying a glass of water and a couple of Aspirin tablets.
"Not feeling much better today hey?"
"Not even a little bit," Kurt replied with a groan, "I don't think I can go to school dad. I'm sorry."
"No worries," his dad replied, gently brushing his son's bangs off his forehead feeling for a temperature. "When I heard you slam into the bookshelf I called Principal Figgins and told him you would be absent."
Kurt stifled a chuckle. Thank god for small miracles, he mused. "Thanks dad"
He returned to school the following day, feeling significantly better. The lump on the back of his head had all but disappeared and the pounding migraine had been reduced to barely a dull ache. Kurt was happy it was Thursday. Glee day. The music club was really his only escape from his unfortunate reality. It was something that he dedicated himself to completely. He truly loved being able to spend time with other "not-so-popular" students without feeling the need to watch over his shoulder for any jocks to mess with him. They would gather once a week, along with Mr. Schuester, the High School Spanish teacher and perform songs relating to their weekly "homework" assignment. It was literally Kurt's only time where he could truly be himself. And he cherished every minute of it. There were only a few kids in the club, since "Mr. Schue" had only recently brought the club back to life – including Mercedes Jones, an African-American dynamic diva and Kurt's only true friend. She had stayed with Kurt during his "coming out phase" and truly supported him and his dreams to one day end up on a Broadway stage. Also in the Club were Rachel Berry – a high-strung, Barbara Streisand-like Jewish girl who nobody really liked, Tina Cohen-Chang, a quiet Asian girl with a stutter, and Artie Abrams, a wheelchair-bound nerd with a flair for music. They were literally a band of misfits. But they were Kurt's band of misfits and he wouldn't trade them for anything.
Kurt was standing at his locker attempting to smooth his perfectly coiffed hair when in the mirror behind him Mercedes appeared, wearing an enthusiastic smile.
"Hey baby!" she exclaimed with a grin, "Missed you yesterday, what happened?"
"Oh." Mercedes was not blind to what Kurt had been enduring since he was "outted" at school. She remembered the day very vividly. She and Kurt had just arrived to the cafeteria for lunch when they noticed that everyone was staring at them. Kurt had turned to her and asked if he had something on his face when her cell phone buzzed. She was horrified when she opened the text message that Jacob Ben Israel, McKinley's resident gossip, had spammed every cell phone in the school with:
"Breaking news – Hummel likes boys!"
It had been disastrous. Kurt stayed locked in the girls bathroom, bawling his eyes out with Mercedes holding him close for the remainder of the afternoon until they were sure that everyone – including the Janitors had left for the day. Kurt had faked sick for the rest of the week of school. It took a long time for her boy to build up the strength to walk the hallways of McKinley again, even if he had lost a good portion of his glittering personality along the way.
"Are you ok?" She asked her friend hesitantly.
"Yeah, nothing a few Aspirins couldn't cure." Kurt replied flatly.
"Are you coming to Glee today?"
"Yeah. I'm actually looking forward to it." Kurt said with mild enthusiasm.
"Great! Did you hear the news? We have some new members!"
"Huh?" he said, his interest peaking "Who?"
"A couple of the Cheerios and some football players." Mercedes stated matter-of-factly.
Kurt's stomach dropped to the floor. His face became pale. How could this happen? Glee club was supposed to be his safe haven. The place where football players and their ditsy cheerleader girlfriends avoided like the plague. Glee club was social suicide, they'd never willingly sign up. He must have misheard her.
He shook his head, as though trying to clear away cobwebs, "I'm sorry… what?"
"I dunno how it happened boo, but we got us some hotties!" Mercedes grinned, "You know Mike Chang? The weird Asian guy - He's coming now. And Puck too! OMG Kurt! He's soooo sexy!"
If possible, Kurt's stomach propelled even further down to the floor. Noah "Puck" Puckerman was one of his least favorite jocks. He'd treated Kurt to many dumpster dives along the way. The mohawked teen had a mean streak. He was badass.
"Oh," Mercedes continued. "And Finn Hudson."
Kurt nearly fainted.
Finn Hudson was the quarterback of the football team. He was the most popular guy in school. He dated the captain of the Cheerios. He was also Kurt's secret straight-guy crush that no one knew about. Finn Hudson was beautiful. Kurt nearly found himself daydreaming about the quarterback when reality smacked him back to the present.
"F…Finn Hudson is in Glee club?" He stuttered, leaning heavily on the row of lockers. He literally felt weak in the knees.
"You bet your sweet ass he is!" She grinned, "And he's bringing along Quinn, Santana and Brittany! Can you believe it? We might actually be gaining social status!"
Kurt felt nauseous. This was impossible. There was no way this was happening.
Mercedes rambled on, something about how she was certain Mr. Schue had to have bribed the football players into joining. She too agreed that Glee club was socially unacceptable at McKinley.
Kurt just stood in the middle of the hallway in disbelief.
"Anyways, I have to run to class now, but make sure you come today! It's going to be great!" Mercedes smiled and gave Kurt a hug. "Oh! And here are some of the new songs we're working on." She dug through her satchel and pulled out a thick stack of music sheets. "Bye boo!"
Kurt stood in the hallway stunned.
What the hell just happened?
Several minutes later, Kurt was absentmindedly walking through the hallway on his way to his next class, still shocked about Mercedes' recently dropped bombshell. How was he going to handle being in Glee with the same clan of football players whose mission was to make his life miserable? How was he going to be able to sing in the same room as Finn Hudson? How was he…
Kurt was so preoccupied that he wasn't prepared for what happened next.
A large, callused hand came out of nowhere and launched the stack of music sheets into the air. Kurt could only watch as they all floated down through the air like leaves falling from a tree. He turned his head just in time to see Karofsky and Azimio exchange a high-five and laugh as they carried on down the hallway.
Kurt just sighed and kneeled down to pick up the music sheets, which were scattered all across the hallway floor.
An unexpected hand offered him a stack of papers that had been collected from the floor. "Here you go."
Kurt turned towards the voice and jumped back slightly when he saw the red and white letterman's jacket covering the arm attached to the helping hand.
"Hey," the voice exclaimed. "Its okay. I'm not going to hurt you or anything."
Kurt didn't say a word, he just soundlessly took the stack of music sheets offered from the hand and stood up to walk away.
"Are these songs for your Glee class?"
"You weren't in school yesterday."
"I bet that really upset you and the rest of your narcissistic friends! I wasn't here for you to toss around like a piece of garbage" Kurt hissed with acid in his voice, still refusing to make eye contact with the boy. "I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience."
He missed the brief flash of genuine regret in the boy's eyes.
"Kurt, you hit your head pretty hard the other day. Are you alright?"
Kurt finally stood up, clenched his fists and gave the other boy his best bitch-face, "As if you actually care!" His voice was progressively growing louder and higher pitched with each word. "What? Did Karofsky put you up to this?"
"It's not right, the things they do to you."
"No shit!" Kurt exclaimed, "But you never really seem interested in telling them to stop, do you?" He grabbed his satchel from the floor and took off down the hallway.
"You should sing the song from Wicked," the voice called from behind him, "Your voice would be perfect for it."
Kurt, still muttering frustrated profanities, stopped dead in his tracks. Huh?
"I mean it," there was a slight pause. "You would kill it."
Kurt slowly turned around to face the football player with a cautious look and an eyebrow inquisitively arched. "What can you possibly know about musicals? And who are you anyways?"
The boy grinned.
"I'm Blaine. Blaine Anderson."